Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Norma Mertz

Committee Members

Vincent Anfara, Joy DeSensi, Terrell Strayhorn


Effective coaching has long been associated with winning. Because of this conceptualization of effective coaching, researchers have tended to study the behaviors and thought processes of winning coaches, but not how these behaviors and thought processes affect athletes. Very little research has looked at poor, ineffective coaching, specifically from the athletes‟ perspective. Because of this, our understanding of poor, ineffective coaching is limited. The purpose of this study was to explore collegiate, professional and semi-professional athletes‟ perceptions of poor coaching. An existential phenomenological research design provided the framework for understanding athletes‟ experience of poor coaching. Data were collected via in-depth interviews with 16 athletes (10 male, 6 female; 12 Caucasian, 4 African-American). Athletes described a total of 33 poor coaching experiences that occurred in a variety of sports (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball) at several competitive levels (youth, middle school, high school, collegiate, and professional). Data were analyzed using phenomenological methods, similar to the constant comparative method, which led to the identification of five themes that constitute the essence of athletes‟ experience of poor coaching: Not teaching, Unfair, Uncaring, Inhibiting, and Coping. Because the athletes talked about poor coaches who were both winning and losing coaches, it was clear that for the athletes, poor coaching was not associated with losing.

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